If your association uses Instagram to promote your programs, record event happenings or aid with membership recruitment, you’ll want to use a measurement tool to track your account’s growth in followers and in-app engagement. You can’t know if you’re making progress toward your goal unless you measure your growth.
APHA uses Iconosquare to track its followers, growth and interaction. You can login to the online tool using your Instagram password to access analytics for your account.
A measurement tool like Iconosquare allows you, the Instagram/social media administrator, to:
- See cumulative likes and comments so you can track growth and see who your most engaged followers are.
- Track individual photos’ comments and likes. You can easily see which types of content spur the most engagement from your followers.
- Track growth in followers – by day, week or month, and on a rolling basis.
- Create and insert “Follow us” buttons on your association’s website or other digital properties.
- Set up a photo gallery widget composed of your Instagram posts on your website. The gallery is also available as a WordPress plugin.
- Create an Instagram tab for your Facebook page that showcases your photos and videos, promotes your frequently-used hashtags, and links to your Instagram account online and in the app.
Tracking metrics such as followers gained or lost, interaction with your posts through favorites and comments, and the tone of comments posted on your account offers your association a way to concretely measure the effect of your visual communications on whatever goals you have for your Instagram account.
Iconosquare is free to use, though the free version does not offer automatic daily updates. The company offers an upgrade called Iconosquare Plus that automatically updates your account’s data daily and removes ads from your browser interface for a fee.
Another tool that is particularly useful for measuring interaction on Instagram is a link shortener. Outside of paid advertisement posts, the only hyperlink Instagram allows within an account is the link contained in the account bio. Instagram account managers can still type a link in the caption of a post, but it will not connect to a Web page or other online destination when clicked or tapped. People wishing to promote a link on Instagram often use a free link shortener like Goo.gl or Bit.ly to display a link that is easy to remember and type into a browser outside of the Instagram app.
Link shorteners like these usually offer tracking as well, so you can see how many people have accessed a link, and you can measure the popularity of social media as a bridge between your audiences and your other communications, events, or programs. Because people can’t click on your URL, make sure it’s memorable and easy to type. Bit.ly lets you customize what your URL says, but take into account that clicks really aren’t your goal on Instagram. Engagement and chatter around your association and its activities are the main goals with Instagram.
As with any communication channel, tracking your progress on Instagram is a smart way to ensure you’re allocating time and resources in a way that will yield your association the best return on investment. Done consistently, tracking and measurement will help your association achieve better results with Instagram.
Michele Late is executive editor of The Nation’s Health, the award-winning newspaper of the American Public Health Association. She also serves on APHA’s social media team, oversees its Instagram and Flickr accounts as well as its @publichealth Twitter account, which has more than 410,000 followers. In 2011, TIME Magazine named @publichealth as one of the top 140 Twitter accounts to follow.